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How do you do maintain your sobriety through the tough parts? She asked me pointedly, with a drunken slur that cut quick and dirty; sharp, rusty razors rife with reminders of what I once succumbed to in similarly desperate moments.
I’m not totally sure, I answered. However, I believe I’ve transposed my desire to drink in what was a futile effort at maintaining a semblance of control into a fervid need to NOT drink, in an effort to preserve that very same control.
I’m not sure that’s the whole truth but it’s certainly part of it. I prefer to have control over myself, over my behavior, and over what is ultimately my life. When I discovered that drinking was simply a reflection of the contrary, it became clear to me that it had no place in the clutter.
But still, I struggle. Day by day sometimes. And at others the time stretches between the struggles are longer, depending on what is going on in my life.
These days it’s minute by minute.
I sat and listened to her after I’d answered the question, listened to the sadness and the questioning punctuated by genuinely heartfelt sentiments, all highlighted by the haze of booze. And I understood.
Being in our bodies can be challening, can’t it? Existing inside ourselves, sensing every single drop of blood as it runs screaming through our veins, threatening, it can seem, to stop abruptly before it decides willfully to carry on. I feel as if I am floating. Blood is my mode of transport, frothy bubbles that wash me to my next destination, toward all the places I am supposed to be present for, but can’t help but approach through myopic lenses – waking up in the morning, showering, making breakfast for my daughter, taking her to school, doing work, contending with school assignments I can’t concentrate on and and a cat who has decided that a litter box is superfluous.
But such is life inside our bodies.
I want to control my body when in fact what I need to do is listen to it. Listen to the wave of sensation it sends through the stream, listen when it tells me that drinking is a bad idea even though goddam it sure would take the fucking edge off, and most importantly, listen when it says, You’re okay.
Which is exactly what happened this afternoon. The conversation I participated in, with this sweet woman I’ve known since my birth, and for whom drinking has also been a struggle, reminds me that, really? I am okay. We are all okay, after all.
We just don’t always know it, do we?
Confessions are fascinating offerings, aren’t they? We take our innermost thoughts and perhaps secrets, very slices of our souls, and give them away for others to take, judge, identify with, relate to, misconstrue, understand, be flatly against or wholly believe in –or somewhere in between- and be entertained, influenced and even, if we are lucky, educated by.
I have told many a confession here and in other places ‘round the web and it has certainly been interesting seeing my confessions evolve – through strings of stories, tales of encounters and situations, around thoughts that surround them, interweaved with lessons I’ve learned… and even a few that were probably missed. I’ve enjoyed every bit of sharing my thoughts and experiences here, even when I didn’t love the circumstances or situations that lead to my expressions of them.
And isn’t that what confessing is all about after all? Putting out there for at least one other person to hear so that we can release a piece of ourselves – leveling, unifying, communicating, creating a connection of some sort so that we don’t feel as if we are alone in it – whatever it may be. Chances are if we have had a thought or experience, someone else has had a similar one.
I confess that I have loved discovering that I’m not alone out there in the infinitely vast landscape that is life. It’s made me feel secure, like a pillow across my lap while I watch TV. Confident like a brand-new pair of well-fitting jeans. Contented as a young child in her mother’s lap.
I also confess that I am in the midst of what feels like, thus far, the most arduous and overwhelming thing I have ever experienced.
He moved out this weekend, my husband of 15 years. Our daughter helped him pack up some of his belongings and install his provisions into his new apartment. They shopped for new home items together, she excitedly helped him set up his bed and whateverelse, and together they carved out a special space for her. She will rotate between us weekly and throughout this entire process she has done very, very well.
I however, have been confronted by the abject aloneness of finalizing a departure from someone who has functioned as so much a part of me for so very long. Coming home yesterday to a half empty closet and a reminder of what was sent me absolutely reeling with dread and overwhelm… and sadness.
But I will work through these bits of challenge. It’s what we do, isn’t it? We take what comes our way in the manner we know how. I can complain and cry or I can suck it up and move forward. For the time being, I suppose I will do some of both. In the interest of balance and all that. I will just have to try to remember during the particularly difficult parts that I’ve designed it this way. I asked for what I wanted, what I needed – space for each of us to figure some things out – and I got exactly that.
So, really, I can’t complain. Besides, I still have hope that this thing will work out between us.
And the wonderful thing about hope is that it can spur us toward action – something that relationships must fully and steadily encompass in order for them to be sustainable, but which is often tragically forgotten.
So, here’s to hope, to more confessions… and to whatever else will be.
Last night’s casual grab of the back of my neck by a good friend sent surprise shiver whispers inside the remote and quiet depths of me, goose bumps skin-surfing my entire body, shoulders scrunching toward my ears in delight.
Oh, and desire.
For more. Of that.
For the remainder of the evening, I stood there wondering – Is it too much to ask for someone to do exactly that? Just hold my hair, grasp it tightly in your thick, rough hewn fingers right there at its root where the hairline meets the nape of my neck and pull it, gently, and hold, hold, hold please, for just a little a while, then pull again, upwards this time and more forcefully until my heels and then toes slowly and desperately begin to peel off the floor, my soles stuffed full of intention and fixation, teeming with urgency and craving and lust and… hope? Can I hope that someday soon this particular little base, dirty desire will be fulfilled without me having to ask, to hope… to yearn? Is this yearning, which threatens wickedly to become an absolute fucking necessity, this yearning to be suspended by my hair in someone’s strong and impassioned fingers, is this more a mark of loneliness or of resolve? Resolve to find someone that can meet such a very simple need.
Like the shiver that begins its journey on the outer edge of my thigh and then creeps serenely down the length of my leg, I am quite obviously in a state of flux. And I believe, from inside the quiet depths of me, that the possibility of at least temporary grounding lives inside an integral and sweet spot inside my feet-soles.
And with their rise, so too will I.
Utter calmness descended upon me as we drove away from Austin, despite the fact that I knew we would be on the road for many, many hours.
It didn’t matter.
Stepping away from my life had become an absolute imperative, so my trip to Burning Man couldn’t have been better timed. Leaving my husband and child behind gave me no pause whatsoever. I needed this trip. Needed it like dust needs a surface on which to cling.
We had several breakdowns along the way, mechanical difficulties that I endured and my two male cohorts labored through (I held the flashlight and sweet-talked gas station attendants for supplies while they did the actual dirty work). Yet these setbacks did not impact my serenity in the slightest. I was committed to practicing presence at every moment. And did I ever succeed.
So, driving into the limits of Black Rock City, a place where possibility exists far beyond the realm of the most active imaginations (and exactly fifty-three hours after we had embarked upon our journey) I was mellow. As mellow as I had been in quite some time. Mellow as yellow. As laid-back as a Golden Gate Park hippie in the California sunshine.
What could I possibly say about Burning Man that doesn’t sound cliché and trite? Words don’t capture its essence, nor do photographs give credence to the magic that occurs at every turn of a bicycle’s wheel, a hipster’s head, a dime in the sand.
See? Trite. Cliché. I can’t even give the experience adequate description.
But because my experience there in the black-hot Black Rock desert was one of acceptance, of love, and of learning – really learning to open myself up to creating connections with people, connections that might last a forever lifetime or be the fleeting moments they were designed to be– because this was my experience, and because I had so many fantastic, flashing interludes laced with lessons about me and who I am in this world, and because despite the heat and the dust and the gazillions of dirty, sexy people I managed to maintain my mellow for a solid two weeks, because of these things… I can be okay with the fact that I can’t properly communicate how motherfucking awesome it was.
Perhaps a picture of me in the midst of my mellow will have to suffice. And perhaps mellow is something I should learn to cultivate here at home too.
Another lesson to learn… and counting.
I stood peering at myself in the mirror, wondering if I looked the same as I did the last time he saw me, three years ago.
Nah, I thought, I actually look better!
When I’d lived there in California I had been the quintessential party girl. He knew me as that free-spirited, unrestrained, kindafuckedup woman. Since then, getting sober has pulled me together – it helped me drop a considerable amount of weight, compelled me to stop smoking and allowed me the energy to get to the gym regularly. I am three years older, yes, but I definitely look better now than I did back then.
Plus, I’ve learned who I am which means that I am comfortable in my body. Grounded, rooted even, inside of it.
Well … usually, anyway.
He had seen me the day before. We’d had lunch and as he sat across the wide, black-laquered table from me, it was clear that he was appreciative of my appearance. But he hadn’t seen me unclothed, exposed, vulnerable, wanting. He had yet to unwrap the package of me, and relish gifts of comfort, diversion, satisfaction. And while we certainly had a past, what had once been between us had fallen, unnoticed, by the wayside; littered remnants of sweet but distant memories. The possibility that lie between us existed inside a quiet hotel room across town.
My phone lit up – Here, his text read.
I collected my purse and walked out the door towards his car. We made small talk on the way to the Hilton, about what I don’t remember, it is a bit of a blur. I do remember that the receptionist at the hotel didn’t blink when I asked for a day use room, maybe because I have reached a point in my life where the possibility that a hotel clerk might think I’m a slut has become wholly inconsequential to me, and so my confidence in asking for a room to fuck in for the day has reached its utmost peak.
Plus I was beyond horny.
We took our time getting to the room. Slowly we walked from the elevator down the hallway, he holding my hand behind his back in a gesture of temporary ownership. It is his style to go slow in the beginning, let the moments build upon each other in fevered anticipation of what might be next. It is also his style to lay temporary claim to me during the time that we are together, a practice to which I completely conform. Happily even. And it didn’t take long to recognize that we had come together completely empty-handed – no vibrators, no dildos, no booze, no weed, no ties, no blindfold, no lube. Condoms were our only accoutrement, and they, like sweet memories, went unnoticed.
Inside that hotel room, the one across town, occurred a primal blur of bodies, steeped in longing so deep that it bordered upon compulsion.
You are absolutely perfect. With you I will fill my cup, he whisper-spit at me in one sweet breath, laden with greed, tinged white-hot with need. He took me then, made me his – in one motion flipped me violently onto my back and threw my legs with a grasp so tight my eyes stung, up towards the flat-white ceiling; thick, drenched tongue found my cunt after it ran primitively down the entire side of my body. My sigh, the sigh that wrote more than words could ever render, was audible. Palpable even.
I had returned.
The blur continued through to the afternoon. Cups were filled. Giving was taken, received, spit out like watermelon seeds seeking solace in the soil. And taking what was given? That was a given.
It was, after all was said and done, the most perfect afternoon – a splendid combination of worship and abuse.
What more could one ask for after a three year absence?
The fact is that I never did.
But I got exactly what I wanted anyway.